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About Mac Help LA

For many years, I was responsible for teaching students of all ages how to use Apple II and Macintosh computers. I found that I had to learn how to communicate without drowning my students in technical terms. Soon I was teaching the other teachers and maintaining all the computer systems and databases at the school. I found that the key to helping people with computers is to give them the information that they really need to achieve their goals without  unneccessary computer jargon.

Currently, I specialize in helping small businesses with their computer hardware and software. This includes setting up networks, creating business solutions using Filemaker Pro, updating web sites, debugging network installations, researching ideal solutions to computer problems, etc.

Additionally for some time now, I have been studying search-engine ranking systems. Basically when someone uses a search engine to find something, the search engine has to figure out which web sites to put on the first page of the search results. That involves ranking the relevant webs sites with the most relevant being shown at the top of the list.

It is apparent that all of us will be utilitizing the internet more and more as part of our business strategies, so it important to learn how to make our web sites available to new clients. This has a lot to do with search engines because that is what people are using to search the internet. How can you arrange your web site so that people find you? That will be the topic of a newsletter on this site soon. In the meantime, I would suggest searching the internet for "search engine optimization". It's an important subject for anyone with a web site.

My goal is to help Macintosh users in the Los Angeles area to become more and more in command of their computing environment so that they are attaining the maximum benefits from their computer resources with a minimum investment of time and money.

Doug Hogg, Founder of Mac Help LA


Mac Tips!

It is very nice (and unfortunately very rare) to find software that just works perfectly as soon as it's installed, and actually saves you time instead of making you spend hours configuring it or figuring out how it works. For OS X users, check out "LaunchBar". We guarantee that you will be amazed. This software will help any and all computer users to become more efficient. (No, we don't get a commission. We just love this program.)

Okay, what does Launchbar do? Well imagine that you want to go to your online banking site. How about pressing command - space and typing "well" (for Wells Fargo) and having your web browser start up with your banking site in the window? I just recently got version 4 of Launchbar, and I am sure that it has a lot of new magic, but what I love is that it is self-configuring; it doesn't take any of my precious time to set it up.


The truth is, if nobody responded to junk mail, it would be gone in a flash. The answer is to refuse to validate junk mail with a response. If people really want something that is promoted in a junk email, they can go online and search for it. But please, ask your friends and family to not respond to any junk mail that they receive. Otherwise, we'll all be fighting spam for years to come. Pass the word: Don't reward spam! This may seem pretty obvious, but it is equally obvious that a lot of people still need to get the message that they can help us all save time by ignoring junk mail offers.

You might want to join a group campaigning against spam. Here is a group which seems to be effective: http://www.cauce.org/index.phtml

As for how to deal with spam in the meantime, it's a challenge. Reminds me of the story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. The more the rabbit hit the Tar Baby, the more he was stuck. We want to be able to ignore spam, but wind up spending a lot of time installing anti-spam software and configuring filters. My advice for now is to get a Bayesian Spam filter that can train itself and then get on with your life. (Bayesian filters use statistics to analyse your email by comparing it to prevous junk email that you have received. Apparently the word comes from work done on statistics by Reverend Thomas Bayes 1702-1761.)

For those who like to experiment with advanced filters, I suggest that you check out "JunkMatcher", which is free and adds the capability to filter the variations that spammers like to use (like "v-i-a-g-r-a") to the junk mail filter in OS 10.3's Mail program. See

If you have a web site, here's another suggestion for you. Get hold of a program to encode your email address so that software robots can't harvest your email address from your web site. There are several free email address encoders out there. You will need to enter your email address and the software will give you an encoded version. At that point, you will need to insert the encoded version into your web site. Both programs include instructiions. There is an "Email Address EnKoder" at http://hivelogic.com/enkoder

Another avenue to protect is the email address that you use for domain-name registrations. Use a separate email address just for that and nothing else, and then filter anyone except the domain-name registrar.

By the way, it is possible to avoid spam. I have one client who doesn't get any spam at all! She never signs up for anything and doesn't give out her email address to anyone but friends.

Spam update: For some time now, I have been using SpamSieve to filter all the mail I get. A while back, I switched from Eudora to Apple's Mail.app for handling my email, and SpamSieve does an excellent job of working along side Mail.app (as it did with Eudora). Now and then, I check the spam folder, but SpamSieve has become very accurate. (SpamSieve learns from you as you go along.) I realize that I have been freed from spam. Thank you SpamSieve:
SpamSieve home page